Phew, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be writing here again. Six weeks ago today, I called Bluehost because this blog was loading slowly (something I’ve done many times over the years). The kind person on the other end of the chat pressed a button, the site crashed, and a six-week nightmare began.
Over the next several weeks I clocked 60 hours on the phone with Bluehost, dozens of emails and countless hours trouble shooting on my own (not to mention all the work my friend Emilie poured into it, but that’s the second part of the story).
All my websites went down for weeks, which means that fans of rubygirl.org couldn’t read their beloved advice column, students going on our trip to London and Paris next summer couldn’t access bluebicycle.com, my lovely clients at thrivelifecoachingforwomen.com couldn’t get into the member area, schools couldn’t schedule anti-bullying assemblies at everyonebelongs.life and parents who wanted to buy our course at buildyourteenager.com were out of luck (and it might have been really nice to sell a few courses…).
Worst of all, most of my creative energy went into trying to get my websites back online. I was so excited about writing here, I had so many good ideas and I just ended up spending my days searching YouTube tutorials on website restoration and crying on the phone to Bluehost. Whenever my kids saw me on the phone they’d say, “Oh that’s mom’s new hobby– begging Bluehost for help.”
One day, a few weeks into the nightmare, a dear friend stopped by. When she asked how I was doing, I collapsed into tears and told her about my beloved, 12-year family blog that I simply couldn’t resurrect (and honestly, my sorrow that buildyourteenager.com was becoming a money pit).
Now I get it. There are much worse problems in the world. But this was getting me down. I was REALLY whiny and I said to my friend, “Everyone says “do good and it will come back to you.” I feel like I’ve put a lot of good into the world and I need a little bit of it to come back to me right now.”
I told you I was whiny.
She hugged me and promised to pray for me and the very next day I heard from my friend Emilie.
Emilie and I go back to rubygirl.org where Emilie helped me tackle the elements of the website that were eluding me. I run a lot of websites, but I’m a dabbler. Emilie has an actual degree in Computer Science and her knowledge far outpaces mine. We’d communicated easily and worked well together and I counted her among my soul friends. But I wasn’t going to ask her to help with this problem. She’s a big time web developer who gets paid hundreds of dollars an hour and I didn’t want to drag her into my vortex of doom. But when she reached out and offered to help I willingly clung to the side of her life raft. I dimly remembered family photos I’d taken for Emilie when she asked, “Do you want me to pay you or do you want to call in a favor one of these days?” It felt like a good day for a favor. And it felt like the hand of God.
Emilie and her darling husband (also a big time, big shot web developer) dove into the backup files of scenesfromthewild and assured me all was not lost. That alone eased my heart. But even with all their experience and connections, they couldn’t break through the Bluehost bureaucracy. About two days in, Emilie called me and said, “I’ve put in about eight hours and Jesse is five hours in but we haven’t had any luck. Jesse’s getting on a plane, but he’ll look at it again in his hotel.”
“No,” I protested, “you shouldn’t spend any more time on this. This is way beyond the scope of a favor.”
“Michelle,” Emilie assured me, “I owe so many of the good things in my life to you. You gave me a job when I was a new developer, you recommended me for jobs and those led me to where I am now. You can call me day or night. I will always help you.”
I’m crying as I type this. I didn’t think I’d helped Emilie at all– she’d helped me. My whiny complaint about putting out a lot of good in the world echoed in my mind. I do try to put out good into the world, and this time it came back to me in a miraculous way.
For the next four weeks, Emilie and I talked almost daily, with Bluehost and with each other. I chatted with her while she was on vacation in Hawaii, when she went to Arizona, we texted at movie theaters and in doctor’s offices. There were days when we thought the problem was solved and days when we slipped back into despair. She never, never abandoned me. She could have. She probably should have.
Last week, I finally found a solution. It was time to give up on Bluehost. That probably seems obvious to you, but every day it seemed like we were just one step away from solving the problem. On Friday, I found a new host, I’ve spent the last few days transferring almost everything over (this lovely blog may crash again) and it’s almost done.
Since I look for meaning in everything, I’m trying to figure out what this all means. First, next time I have a problem with a business, I’m giving up sooner. I should have walked away from Bluehost after the first week or so. I wasted so many hours and so much mental energy on trying to make their services work when they really weren’t interested in helping me. For nearly a decade, Bluehost provided great service, but something has changed in their company.
Honestly, I’m not sure where this lesson will apply in my life. It was a hard earned tutorial and I intend to remember it.
Second, I’m tempering my expectations for buildyourteenager.com. Yes, we have an incredible parenting course and every parent needs it (whether they know it or not) but having 6 weeks where we absolutely couldn’t sell it, helped me settle into the truth that building this business might be a very slow process. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, or the problems aren’t worth solving, it just may take some time. I’m so grateful to those of you who offered to help with marketing and I’m going to reach out to you as soon as I solve these website problems. It’s still a bit tempting to throw it all in the lake, but we’ve invested a lot of money and more than that, every time I read an email from a parent who has a better relationship with their teen because of our course I’m reminded of why we started all this in the first place. I KNOW helping families is something I was born to do. I know it matters.
Third, I’ve learned that I’m never truly left alone. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why Emilie helped me so much (and continues to help, we’ve texted several times today about final details– moving ten websites is a beast of a job). Her kindness, her humor, her unfailing patience and goodness have shown me the face of God. He is reflected in her and I hope to turn and reflect it out into the world.